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How much force can a repossessor use?

Financing automobiles is big business in the U.S. Indeed, according to Lending Tree, Americans collectively owe roughly $1.46 trillion on the cars, trucks and SUVs they drive every day. This means car loans account for approximately 9% of all the outstanding debt in the country.

If you take out a car loan, you obviously must pay it back. For whatever reason, though, you might fall behind on your payments. Depending on the language in your loan agreement, the lender probably has the right to repossess your vehicle. How much force can a repossessor use, though?

No force

Tow truck drivers can be intimidating, especially because they can pick up and haul away your vehicle in just a few minutes. Still, under Maryland law, they cannot use force against you during a repossession. They also cannot breach the peace or commit any crimes.


Because state law prohibits repossessors from committing crimes, you might think your car is safe in your driveway. After all, coming onto your property might seem like trespassing. This is not the case, though. Indeed, just as repossessors have the legal authority to tow your car away from a public street, they can come into your driveway to retrieve the vehicle.

Your rights

Vehicle repossessors are debt collectors, so they must have state-issued licenses. To protect yourself from car theft, you have the right to ask the tow truck driver for the license. If he or she does not have it, you can call the company to request licensing information. The driver should identify the company and give you contact information.

Ultimately, even though you do not have to worry about your physical safety during a repossession, you should explore all available options for avoiding one.